A gray day and sharing produce

It's been overcast all day and now is gently misting.  The light is dim, a contrast to the vivid light of yesterday. Temperatures in the 40°s are slowly melting the snow, but it's been slow. 

A group of students from Florida, volunteering with the Y's Healthy Living Mobile Pantry and another non-profit here in Asheville for a week, were a lot colder than I was, although I'd been misled by the temperatures and hadn't accounted for the influence of the damp air.  It was a bit nippy, but I had layers and rain gear, unlike the students.

We had lots of great-looking vegetables (onions, cabbage, zucchini, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spaghetti squash, carrots, and kale) and fruits (various citrus, apples, bananas, berries, and watermelon) to distribute, along with whole-grain bread from Trader Joe's and locally-produced hummus (thanks, Roots! so it was rewarding to share these items with folks who appreciated them.  We had giant bags of perfect organic onions and lovely large cabbages -- snapped up for winter soups and seasoning for vegetables.  It's always interesting to see how the produce varies -- it's all about diverting excellent food from going to waste and providing access to fresh food to folks who need it.

Our first distribution was a site I'd been to before, but I never would have found on my own:  an affordable-housing complex towards Enka, with an interesting mix of residents from the Ukraine and  Eastern Europe as well as folks from the region. 

An outgoing woman with a German accent mentioned how difficult it was now to get fresh food in the neighborhood, now that the only grocery within walking distance was undergoing reconstruction.  Closed since last June, its new replacement version won't be open until next June, and without easy access to public transportation, she said it was difficult to get to the grocery.  Nearby, there's a mini-mart sort of place accompanying the gas station, along with a robust cluster of fast food places, but given how she described how she liked to cook, I'm sure fast-food didn't count for her as real food.

Our second distribution was at Pisgah View, one of Asheville's housing complexes near the French Broad River; today, it was largely older community members who were picking up food.  They were glad to see us and were wishing that the snow would melt.  There's a bus stop here (at Pisgah View); so it's possible to take the bus to grocery stores, although I'm not sure about where the route goes from there. 

I need to look into that.  Without a vehicle, it's not easy in many communities in North America.  Certainly our mountain city has bus service that's available, but not necessarily easy.


Jason said…
Sounds like a good project. There are large areas of Chicago without any place to buy food other than 7-11s and such. They are called "food deserts".